buylocalTHE MULTIPLIER EFFECT—no, not the latest Hollywood holiday fluff-fest replete with soulless characters, derivative plot points and vapid action, but a sensible way of reckoning the recyclic power of buying local to energize communities—yes, the classic “what goes around comes around.” As BALLE cofounder Michael Shuman writes in The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition, “The future of small business, the future of community vitality and the future of humanity depend on a fundamentally new approach to our local economies. The challenge is to find ways to nurture competitive local alternatives to Wal-Mart that can revitalize our local economies and communities.”

And with the holiday season upon us, what better time to—if you haven’t already— shop and buy local, and keep your cash, and attendant goodwill, recirculating in your community. So rev up that actions-speak-louder-than-words multiplier effect, it’s small-mart time! And I promise no descents into the vagaries of zero-sums and game theory, trade deficits, WTO WTF?!, China, India or, for that matter, droll laissez-faire Milton Friedmanesque spouts. Read More »

OGO LogoHQ‘To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd.’ —Wendell Berry

WE’RE AT THE OUTER EDGE OF SUMMER, TEETERING TOWARD FALL, the autumnal equinox mere days away, and celebrating, here in Oregon, another Organically Grown in Oregon Week, now in its twenty-first year. With 425 certified organic farms and organic production covering more than 115,000 acres, Oregon has been a longtime leader in the organic agriculture charge toward sustainability and “good food for all.” And now with an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House (raising a big the-day-has-finally-come HURRAH! from Alice Waters; not so much from Monsanto) and everywhere you turn talk of simple, slow, local, organic and boy, do we ever need to change our nation’s eating habits, let’s hope this movement can gain serious momentum, and requisite backing, to make a real difference in the way food is grown, harvested, sustained and eaten.

As Michael Pollan writes in the introduction to a new collection of essays by Wendell Berry, Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009), “Certainly these are heady days for people who have been working to reform the way Americans grow food and feed themselves—the ‘food movement’ as it is now often called. Markets for alternative kinds of food—local and organic and pastured—are thriving, farmers’ markets are popping up like mushrooms, and for the first time in more than a century the number of farmers tallied in the Department of Agriculture’s census has gone up rather than down.” Read More »